Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating

Go To
Hani (left) and Ishu (right)
Hamaira Khan (nicknamed Hani or Maira) is an Irish teenage girl of Bengali descent attending a Dublin Catholic high school. She's also best friends with two White Irish girls, Aisling and Deirdre. However, being a Muslim South Asian means there is a divide between them despite this. After telling them she's bisexual, Aisling expresses skepticism because Hani has only dated boys. To "prove" herself, Hani then decides to fake a relationship with her year's only other girl of South Asian ancestry (also Bengali), Ishita Dey (nicknamed Ishu). It turns out Ishu is a closeted queer girl herself, agreeing after she's convinced Aisling will help her become Head Girl as a result of getting close with Hani. However, faking a relationship is harder than they expect, as this steadily becomes real and deepens Hani's rifts with her existing friends over her identities.

Examples: ​

  • Big Brother Instinct: Nikhita (Nik), Ishu's older sister, is very protective of her. Even though she's living in London, she flies over immediately to help her when Ishu's accused of cheating on a test falsely, exposing the accusation as false.
  • Bi-Wildered: Aisling insists that Hani has to be just a confused lesbian after coming out as being bisexual, despite Hani's insistence otherwise.
  • Bookworm: Ishu is a huge book lover, with reading as her hobby when not studying until meeting Hani and dating her, when she starts doing more.
  • Brainy Brunette: Ishu is dark-haired and a very high achieving student. Before meeting Hani, her main pastime while not attending school was studying and reading.
  • Bros Before Hoes: In a female version, Aisling and Deirdre grow upset with Hani, claiming she's ignoring them for her (fake) girlfriend Ishu. In fact however they're being less than accommodating of her relationship, and basically don't want her to date Ishu period, using this as a way to undermine them.
  • But Not Too Bi: Hani's bisexuality is a main theme of the story. Within it though, she's solely attracted to Ishu, her (initially fake) girlfriend. In the past, she only dated boys. It's even why Aisling is so skeptical that she's bisexual. However, this is deconstructed and justified because Hani had only recently come out, plus she's still a teenager. She's also (correctly) insistent that this does not in any way mean she isn't bisexual. Her dating Ishu is meant to "prove" she's bisexual earlier, before Hani realizes this is unnecessary, then gets together for real with her.
  • Childhood Friends: Hani and Aisling have been friends since kindergarten. This is part of why Hani is reluctant to realize Aisling's being a very bad friend to her, and end the friendship.
  • Closet Gay: Ishu is not out to her parents in the beginning about her liking girls. She comes out by the end.
  • Coming-Out Story:
    • The story begins as Hani comes out as bisexual to her friends, who are less than enlightened about it, expressing skepticism of her bisexuality. She'd already come out to her parents, who are very accepting.
    • Ishu much later also comes out to her parents as liking girls (without using any term for it).
  • Contrived Coincidence: Ishu just happens to be a closeted queer girl, thus willing as a fake girlfriend of Hani, who's bisexual. Hani didn't know this before, apparently just thinking that she might be willing to have a fake relationship whether or not she'd been straight.
  • Double Standard: Ishu is subject to a very intense investigation when she's accused of cheating, with it being shown that if found to have done so this would damage her standing greatly. Aisling, when exposed as having falsely accused Ishu, is just given a slap on the wrist, to Ishu's anger. Though not stated, it's possibly implied to be a result of racism, as Ishu's of South Asian ancestry while Aisling is White.
  • Friendless Background: Ishu had no friends before the events of the book, being more interested in studying and reading alone, which doesn't appear to be a problem at all for her. However, by dating Hani she gets closer with more people.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Hani agonizes over this when it's made clear Aisling and Deirdre, her friends, don't like her girlfriend Ishu at all. Eventually she firmly chooses Ishu after learning just how bad of friends they've been to her.
  • Grew a Spine: Part of Hani's arc is learning to believe in and stand up for herself, especially toward her so-called friends.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Ishu is an atheist, scoffing when asked by Hani if she believes God exists. However, she's not obnoxious or portrayed poorly otherwise, in fact going out of her way to find halal food for Hani (a Muslim) and respecting her faith. Hani does the same in return.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: ​Hani is a lipstick bisexual, with very long hair and favoring dresses or other feminine attire. In general, she's quite demure at first, into fashion and likes using makeup.
  • Malicious Slander: Aisling cheats off Ishu's quiz, then falsely claims that Ishu is the one who cheated from her to destroy her chance for becoming Head Girl. However, this is exposed, though Aisling gets off with a slap on the wrist for doing it.
  • Marry for Love: Nik, Ishu's sister, gets engaged to a British Indian man she meets while in London, without consulting her parents first. Their reaction is frosty, aided by the fact she leaves university too.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Ishu is short-haired and doesn't really care about her appearance, dressing casually (though she will dress up on special occasions) while showing no interest in feminine things. Hani on the other hand has long hair, dresses in a fashionable girly way and shows many feminine interests. They get together, first in a fake relationship but then for real.
  • No Bisexuals: Aisling thinks Hani is just confused about her sexual orientation or a lesbian, as she hasn't dated any girls, and continually makes comments like this for most of the book. It prompts the plot as Hani attempts to "prove" she's bisexual through faking a relationship with another girl. She grows increasingly aware that "proving" this isn't necessary though, and later tells Aisling so.
  • One-Gender School: Hani and Ishu go to a Catholic high school in Dublin that is only for girls.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Hani, Ishu and other Bengalis are rarely called their full names. This is explained as Bengali custom, where a "dak nam" (nickname, essentially) is used familiarly most of the time. One's full legal name is usually only used for formal reasons.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Hani's parents accepted her bisexuality, with her mother even saying she understands Hani might marry a woman in the future, despite being Muslim and from a traditionally conservative Bengali culture.
  • Opposites Attract: Hani and Ishu are very much opposites in many ways. Hani is a Muslim, Ishu an atheist. Hani has long hair, Ishu short hair. Hani likes feminine things, Ishu doesn't. Hani is social, Ishu happily keeps to herself. Hani suffers from self-doubt, Ishu is confident of herself. Despite this, they fall for each other over time.
  • Queer Romance: The plot centers on Hani and Ishu, two girls, pretending to date for different reasons until they really fall in love, afterward dating for real.
  • Reality Has no Subtitles: Many untranslated Bengali terms are scattered throughout the book, including some brief longer dialogue in the language.
  • Religious Stereotype: Hani, a Muslim, is annoyed by the stereotypes non-Muslims have of her faith, but feels that attempting to disabuse them isn't worth it.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Hani and Ishu fake a relationship for different reasons, while over time they fall in love then become a couple for real.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The book's chapters alternate between Hani and Ishu's perspectives, shown from the first person in each case.
  • Title Drop: The story's title is given to a document Hani and Ishu draw up to help them fake a relationship, with a number of rules. Over time, they break them all.
  • Token Minority Couple: Invoked as Hani seeks out Ishu, her year's only other Bengali or South Asian girl, for a fake relationship. Since it turns out Ishu is queer, this works out. Eventually the relationship becomes real as they fall in love.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Hani is a practicing Muslim while the rest of her friends are irreligious, as is her girlfriend Ishu. Even mentioning anything religious causes discomfort for her friends, and so Hani doesn't much. Ishu though is respectful of her religion, getting Hani halal food. They all go to a Catholic school, ironically (however in Ireland this is not strictly a sign of Catholicism)
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ishu is something of a tomboy, having short hair and not liking girly things, with casual attire (but she'll also dress up on special occasions). Her interests aren't stereotypically masculine however, just more nerdy. Hani is long-haired, dresses in a girly way and she likes more feminine things. First they fake a relationship, and then fall for each other legitimately.